How do you choose the best for you from so many book publishing companies?
When you write a book, the most difficult decision you will have to make is your best book publishing option.
You can choose between traditional publishing, self-publishing, or vanity and assisted publishing services.
For first time authors, it can be a daunting process because of the range of options available.
So what are your best book publishing options?
What are the most reputable companies? Which ones can you trust?
- Best self-publishing companies you can trust
- 1. Retailers offering self-publishing platforms
- Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Recommended
- Apple iBooks Recommended
- Barnes & Noble Press Recommended
- Rakuten Kobo Recommended
- 2. Best Self-Publishing Aggregators
- Smashwords Recommended
- Draft2Digital Recommended
- 3. Self-Publishing Service Providers
- Lulu Recommended
- Bookbaby Rated Excellent by ALLi
- IngramSpark Rated Excellent by ALLi
- Blurb Recommended by ALLi
- 4. Taking the traditional route
- 5. Assisted Self-Publishing Services
- 6. Small Press Publishers
- 7. Vanity Press Publishers Avoid
- AuthorHouse Not Recommended
- Strategic Book Publishing SBPRA Not Recommended
- Tate Publishing Not Recommended
- What are your safest choices?
Best self-publishing companies you can trust
I can vouch for many of the following publishing companies. I have either used their services myself for many years. Or I have had positive feedback from fellow Indie authors.
All provide free or almost free self-publishing services of the highest standard.
I will give you a recommendation from The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) for the ones I have not used.
1. Retailers offering self-publishing platforms
The most popular and best self-publishing companies and service providers are online retailers. These well-known companies offer easy, free ebook publishing. Some also offer low-cost print on demand paperback publishing.
They are names you trust. But because they are big companies, there is very little technical support available.
For most self-publishing authors they offer a safe, streamlined and straightforward publishing process.
These companies also offer a high royalty percentage of between 60-70%.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Recommended
Amazon KDP is by far the largest and most popular self-publishing company in the world. It is also the biggest seller of ebooks and books by a huge margin.
If you are publishing for the first time, KDP is the best way to make your book available for sale online. There is no doubt that Amazon sells books and a lot of them.
You can choose from two options when you use KDP to publish ebooks. When you upload your book, you can choose standard KDP or KDP Select. You can read more about these two choices in our article; The Pros And Cons Of Amazon KDP Select Exclusivity.
It is quick and easy to publish Kindle ebooks.
But, if you plan to sell books in paperback with Amazon, you need to understand a bit about book formatting.
For many years, Amazon used CreateSpace for this purpose. But, Amazon KDP has now taken over Createspace and closed it down.
But if you have basic technical skills, it is not difficult to publish a paperback using the Amazon KDP print on demand service.
Apple iBooks Recommended
Apple is a clear number two in the ebook market. Again, you will be publishing with a very big company. There is very little personal help available.
But, if you follow the help pages and FAQs, you should have no difficulty in publishing your ebook. You can then make it available to Apple users.
You can publish direct with Apple iBooks, or you can use an aggregator. (See more about aggregators below.)
Barnes & Noble Press Recommended
Nook Press is now B&N Press, but it still offers an easy way to self-publish.
But be aware that most of its book market is in the United States, unlike Amazon and Apple which are both worldwide.
Rakuten Kobo Recommended
Most authors know it as Kobo Books. It is an online publisher and retailer that also sells reading devices to its customers.
It has a small share of the global market, but it can generate ebook sales for independent authors.
Like Apple, there is the choice to self-publish direct with Kobo or you can use an aggregator.
2. Best Self-Publishing Aggregators
An aggregator is a self-publishing service. You can use one to sell your ebooks on many online ebook retailers.
It is a simple process to self-publish your ebook with an aggregator. You can choose from a large selection of retailers, libraries and subscription services. Some even let you have your book priced for free.
Your royalty rate will be a little lower than if you publish direct with retailers.
But the ease of publishing once to set up distribution to a lot of ebook retailers is worth the small reduction.
Smashwords has been in the ebook business for a long time. It is well-known as one of the best self-publishing companies by indie authors. It is a respected service provider and has excellent customer support.
You can make your ebook available on a long list of ebook retailers and lending libraries.
Many authors chose to publish in ebook format on Amazon. But then they use Smashwords to publish and distribute their ebooks to Apple, B&N, Kobo and many others.
Draft2Digital (D2D) offers a very similar service to Smashwords. Again, its customer service is outstanding.
I must admit that I prefer D2D for one reason.
If you have a lot of titles, D2D has an automatic end matter function. When you publish a new title or update an existing one, D2D updates all you back matter. Additions to your other titles will update automatically.
It is a great facility to have if you publish fiction books in a series.
Related reading: How Much Does It Cost To Publish A Book Using Self-Publishing?
3. Self-Publishing Service Providers
Lulu was one of the first self-publishing companies. It is a distributor of ebooks and print books.
It has its own online bookstore. But you can also distribute to other retailers such as Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.
With Lulu, you can self-publish in hardcover and paperback for print books.
Its ebook publishing and distribution services are free.
But, it also offers paid support services such as editing and cover design.
Bookbaby Rated Excellent by ALLi
BookBaby is a full-service book publisher.
Most of the services, while classed as self-publishing are, in fact, pay to use.
You might not be sure you can do everything. There is a lot you need to do with free self-publishing. In this case, Bookbaby’s services could be very helpful for you.
IngramSpark Rated Excellent by ALLi
IngramSpark offers similar paid services to BookBaby.
It is a full-service publisher. It specialises in the worldwide distribution of print books.
This company might be a choice for an author who prefers to outsource the publishing process.
Blurb Recommended by ALLi
Blurb specialises in producing books in many formats.
It has a bookstore and offers limited distribution channels. But, its biggest plus is that you can pay to publish and produce high-quality books, which you can then sell.
4. Taking the traditional route
For many authors, their dream is to sign a book deal with one of the major publishing houses. Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan and HarperCollins are some of the big names. It might give you a chance to get on the bestseller lists.
But it is not an easy road to get published by one of the big traditional publishers.
Of course, they are all well-regarded companies and they are all highly recommended.
If you want to take this publishing route, you will need to find a literary agent who is willing to represent you.
It can be a long and frustrating process. There are rejections and waiting for replies and complying with complicated submission guidelines.
But, if you manage to secure an agent, it will be up to your agent to offer your book proposal to potential publishers.
If you are offered a publishing contract, it will then take up to a year before your book is published. In some cases, you may be offered an advance, but this is not as generous as it was in years gone by.
The big benefits, of course, are that your publisher will meet all the costs. It will include edit, design and production costs. You will also be assured of being paid your due royalties on time and in full.
5. Assisted Self-Publishing Services
There are many, many small companies online that offer assisted self-publishing services.
It would be fair to say that these companies range from the good to the bad to the ugly.
I have referred to the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) a few times already in this article.
ALLi maintains an extensive watchdog list of the best and worst publishers and publishing services with advisory notes. I would suggest that you bookmark this link for future reference.
You can see a small selection in the image below of the ratings for a handful of companies and service providers.
If you are thinking about using any small online business to help you publish your book, check this list first.
If a company name is in red with an advisory notice, you should be aware that there have been problems reported regarding legal issues, service deficiencies or quality of service.
If a company is marked in green and with an excellent rating, you can be reasonably sure that you will receive good service from a vetted company.
As you can see from the image above, there are many companies that are not recommended.
6. Small Press Publishers
There are some fantastic, hard-working small press publishers, but there are also some that are not so good.
Like all new small businesses, many fail within the first two or three years. This can cause huge problems for authors. Very often it means that you have no way to get your book rights back.
When you sign a contract with a small press publisher, you will be signing over your book rights. It will be up to the publisher to pay your royalties. So you need to be very confident that the publisher can fulfil its part of your contract.
If you are considering signing with a small press, do your research first and check its ALLi rating. Also, look for companies that have been around for a long while and have a solid track record of success.
In my own case, I am signed with a small press publisher to publish my audio books, and I can say that I am completely satisfied.
However, I hear of many cases where authors have experienced a lot of difficulties.
My recommendation is to proceed with caution.
More reading: Publishers To Avoid And Nasty New Author Scams
7. Vanity Press Publishers Avoid
The first point to make here is that vanity publishing is definitely not self-publishing.
Vanity publishers charge you a lot of money to produce your book. In other words, they are selling your book to you, the author, and not to readers.
There have been many complaints and court cases over the years involving vanity press publishers.
If you receive an unsolicited offer to publish your book, beware.
Here are some well-known vanity publishers that you should avoid.
AuthorHouse Not Recommended
AuthorSoltions, also called AuthorHouse has many other names and subsidiaries including:
Archway Publishing, Author Learning Center, AuthorHouse, AuthorHouse UK, AuthorHive, Balboa Press, Balboa Press UK, Booktango, GABAL Global Editions, iUniverse, LifeRich Publishing, Palibrio, Partridge Publishing, Partridge Africa, Partridge India, Partridge Singapore, Trafford Publishing, WestBow Press, Wordclay and Xlibris.
You should take extreme caution if you are considering publishing with any of these companies.
Strategic Book Publishing SBPRA Not Recommended
I receive spam emails almost every week from SBPRA, even though I never subscribed to its mailing list.
I have tried unsubscribing, but without success.
As you can see from the alert above, it currently owes $125,000 to authors, so it is a company you should avoid at all costs.
Tate Publishing Not Recommended
As you can see from the warning above, this is a problem publisher that is the subject of many complaints and also criminal proceedings.
What are your safest choices?
The best and recommended choices
Without a doubt, the safest way to get your books published is to self-publish using major online book retailers that offer self-publishing platforms or to use an ebook aggregator.
If you only want to publish ebooks, then Amazon KDP plus your choice of an aggregator is all you need.
By self-publishing in this way, you are in full control, and you will be paid the highest royalty rate.
The other safe way is to try to get published by a traditional publishing house.
The other choices that come with a caution
Outside of the first three options, the publishing industry becomes more difficult to judge.
Take care if you wish to sign with a small press publisher or use an assisted-self-publishing service. Do your research and check before you commit yourself.
Be careful also if you receive an unsolicited offer to publish your book. Whenever you think something is too good to be true, it almost always is.
Lastly, avoid vanity publishing. Or at least know what you are getting yourself into and how much it will cost you in the end. It is usually a lot of money with no guarantee at all of any book sales.
Related reading: Amazon Keywords And Amazon Categories For Books And Kindle